Age of Conan Class Interview #6: The Ranger

Questions by Cody "Micajah" Bye, Managing Editor Answers by Evan Michaels, Game Designe
Questions by Cody "Micajah" Bye, Managing Editor
Answers by Evan Michaels, Game Designer for Funcom

As the holidays have come and gone, it's time to continue the regularly scheduled Age of Conan class previews. Fresh off our trip to Oslo and the Funcom studios, the Ten Ton Hammer staffers were full of questions regarding the Ranger class. In the subsequent class interview, you will find answers to questions regarding mounted combat, climbing, tracking and much, much more! Read on for more Age of Conan and Ranger info!

Ten Ton Hammer: Although you haven’t specifically put together a class preview for the Ranger, a large portion of information was revealed to the public when you distributed the “Ranged Combat” exclusive with your Clan of Conan newsletter. For the most part, it seems like Rangers are going to be specifically oriented around ranged combat, with the bow being their primary weapon of choice. Is this true? If so, are they the only character that is really proficient with ranged weapons?

Evan Michaels:  Rangers are indeed primarily focused around ranged combat and, as you noted, are the only class which uses ranged weapons as their main source of offensive firepower. While most other classes can use ranged weapons to some degree, Rangers are exclusive in their proficiency of them and are the sole user of ranged combos. Bows and crossbows are equally favored by the Ranger, with different specializations and combos available for both weapon types.

Ten Ton Hammer: Is there any penalty for firing a ranged weapon at a close proximity? For instance, if a Ranger continues using a bow even when a monster is eating his face, will he still get full damage on his arrow attacks? Conversely, is there any penalty for being at an extremely long distance other than not doing damage to the creature? Does the damage change for the distance you are away?

Evan: Although you will be able to use ranged weapons up close, the Ranger will suffer some penalties in melee range. However, he will have a handful of melee combos and crowd control methods to deal with these limitations. In melee combat, Rangers will primarily use one-handed swords in addition to their choice of an off-hand dagger or shield.

Currently, there is no damage reduction on distance shots although there is a range limit imposed on all shots fired. Additionally, Rangers gain some benefit by attacking from upper ground.

Ten Ton Hammer: When you decided to merge the Ranger and Waylayer classes into a single class, what sort of changes occurred to the final version of the merged class? Why did you decide to merge those two classes in particular?

Evan: The decision to merge the two classes was made primarily due to the fact that both were quite similar in theme, mostly differing only in their choice of weapon type. In rolling out the specialized feat system, we felt that giving both options to the player via the “Waylayer” and “Sharpshooter” feat trees made for a much more dynamic and interesting class. Overall, very little has changed in regard to the core abilities of both original classes, giving the Ranger a rather diverse arsenal of attacks and abilities.

Ten Ton Hammer: Is the ranged “first person shooter” mode still in Age of Conan? Will there be a “sticky” targeting system included with this class as well?

Evan: Yes, we still have a first-person targeting mode although it is not the only method of participating in ranged combat. Given the hectic nature of many of the fights, we felt that not having a “lock-on” mode would lead to a frustrating experience for the players in some situations and thus we have included that as an option in addition to first-person mode. Both modes of targeting lead to a very different gameplay experience but we will leave it to the player to decide which they prefer.

Ten Ton Hammer: How does the ranged “first person shooter” mode affect the way a player operates with his Ranger? It’s said that the FPS mode can shoot further and do more damage than the third person mode, so why would anyone want to shoot from third person rather than first person?

Evan: Given the team and positioning-based nature of our combat system, it may sometimes be beneficial to be able to see what is directly around one’s character. Some players prefer third-person targeting as it gives them a better overview of their direct surroundings at any given time—although they will sacrifice some long-distance viewing ability in the process. As noted before, this will primarily be up to the players to decide which they prefer.

Ten Ton Hammer: To me, Rangers and Barbarians seem incredibly different; yet they both fall under the same archetype (Rogue). What makes both of these classes similar? What sort of specific “Rogue-like” abilities will a Ranger possess?

Evan: All Rogues share the same general skill-set, so you can expect the Ranger to have stealth and climbing abilities that are very much similar to the Barbarian and Assassin classes. (Although Rangers wear the heaviest armor of all the Rogue classes, and thus will usually be at a slight disadvantage for the purposes of sneaking around.)

Additionally, the Rogue archetype feat tree provides many shared abilities and specializations between the three classes. For instance, the general Rogue feats “Cheat the Reaper” (which allows the Rogue to occasionally recover from otherwise fatal wounds) or “Excellent Balance” (which grants the Rogue an ability to escape movement impairing effects) provide archetype-themed bonuses and abilities which reinforce the “roguish” nature of the Ranger, Assassin, and Barbarian.

Ten Ton Hammer: On another note, the Rangers seem like they could be extremely powerful compared to other combatants. With the ability to hit at range and in melee combat, what sort of weaknesses will a Ranger possess to put them on a level playing field with a more melee based combatant?

Evan: One of the key weaknesses of the Ranger is, as noted above, the fact that ranged attacks are not always optimal during close-quarters combat. As the majority of their abilities revolve around ranged combat, melee battles will be somewhat to their disadvantage. Although we have given Rangers a handful of abilities to aid them should the need to fight toe-to-toe arise—just as we have given melee classes a couple powerful abilities to cope with ranged opponents—a powerful melee opponent will be a challenge for the Ranger if he is allowed to close within striking distance.

Ten Ton Hammer: Can you give us a brief description of how the climbing skill will work? When can a player actually use the “Climb” skill?

Evan: Climbing is used at specific points in the world which are defined as being climbable. These are placed throughout the landscape by gameplay designers, and will be available at various points throughout the game. While some climbing points are commonplace enough to be used by a novice, others will require a bit more specialization in this skill—which Rogues are particularly adept at.

Ten Ton Hammer: Is mounted archery still in the game? If so, how will it work and what are you doing to make sure this particular piece of the gameplay isn't overwhelmingly powerful compared to the other classes? How will a player stand any sort of fighting chance (in PvP) against a mounted archer?

Evan: Currently, all classes will have the ability to perform attacks while mounted. That said, mounted archery—as with spell casting—is limited to normal directional attacks, and thus disables the use of the more powerful ranged combos.

The balance of this is, of course, something we will keep an eye on as things progress. However, there are a number of counter-measures available for knocking players off their horse and thus making them extremely vulnerable for some time afterwards. We expect that mounted vs. non-mounted combat will be used in various tactical ways and are encouraging people to experiment with the strengths and weaknesses of both approaches.

Ten Ton Hammer: Finally, how will the tracking skill work? Will it be something that appears in a player’s UI? How will at affect PvE and PvP?

Evan: Currently, the ability will allow you to discover and find your way to selected types of objects and targets via the mini-map. Tracking is something we are still fine-tuning, so you can expect more information to be available about this in the near future.

Ten Ton Hammer: Is there anything else about the Ranger that you’d like to tell the Ten Ton Hammer readers?

Evan: Given that Rangers are the only class using ranged weapons as their primary means of attack, they certainly offer a unique experience when compared to the other classes in the game. I feel that the mix of ranged and melee combos is a challenging yet engaging task for players to master and ultimately leads to very fun gameplay.

Rangers are pretty flexible in their means of attack, with various stances unlocked by feats allowing one to pick and choose the best approach for a given fight. For instance, “Sniper Stance” enables the Ranger to focus primarily on range, damage, and precision while “Shattering Stance” grants all of the Ranger’s attacks a chance to knock down their target as well as damaging nearby hostiles.

In regard to group utility and desirability, Rangers have a diverse skill-set which allows them to benefit both themselves and their group as the need arises. Examples of such abilities include:
  • Piercing Shots”, which allows the Ranger and their group to penetrate or even eliminate directional shields on their target of choice.
  • Linebreaker”, which is a powerful shot capable of knocking down all foes in a column between the Ranger and his target
  • Volley”, which allows all of the Ranger’s shots to affect additional targets
  • Heartseeker”, which will instantly kill an opposing minion in addition to increasing the likelihood of one’s team performing fatalities for a period of time.
Overall, I’ve been rather pleased with how the Ranger class has developed and I have no doubt that many players will find it to be extremely enjoyable.

What do you think of the Ranger class in the Age of Conan? Will ranged combatants be overwhelmingly powerful in PvP? Let us know on the forums!

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